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Where, oh, where, has steam engine 'Dinky' gone?
What happened to Stafford County's "Dinky"? The whereabouts of the vintage steam engine remain a mystery.

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Date published: 5/16/2001

EVERYONE ENJOYS a good mystery--especially when the solution helps rescue an innocent victim of foul play.

And the whereabouts of "Dinky" may be just such a case.

As a Stafford County reader, you might be able to contribute a missing piece of the puzzle. Who knows--after studying the case, you might be able to help bring Dinky home.

Here are the facts.

By all accounts, Dinky was a hard worker who pulled his weight and then some. He played a key role in Stafford's mining industry in the early 1900s.

Then, in a shocking turn of events about 1919, Dinky was discarded and buried alive.

But don't worry. Dinky was tough enough to survive nearly 50 years in a shallow grave before being uncovered in the late 1960s.

Shortly thereafter, he was kidnapped and whisked away to a scrap yard near Richmond.

That's where Dinky was last seen, in 1982.

And now a small group of county residents--headed by Jerrilyn Eby, a local historian, and David Gayle, an assistant to the county administrator--have reopened the case.

Yes, they are back on the trail of this rugged Stafford County legend that epitomizes toughness and durability.

Oh, did I mention that Dinky is a vintage steam engine?

Yes, a choo-choo.

It became known as Dinky because that name applies to
a variety of miniature engines. This one is about 10 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet long.

But don't let the small size fool you. Dinky was powerful. Newspaper clippings recount how the engine could pull three carloads of pyrite ore--material so heavy that a wheelbarrow load weighed more than 700 pounds.

"I've just become enthralled with this Dinky train," says Eby.

"We've heard some rumors about it, but the trail has gotten cold," adds Gayle.

The engine shuttled back and forth hauling ore on a narrow-gauge line between a mine shaft on upper Austin Run and Coal Landing on Aquia Creek.

The tracks ran southeast from the mine, coming out to U.S. 1 at the southern end of Bell's Hill Road (State Route 631), crossing U.S. 1 at the Wayside and following the north side of Coal Landing Road.

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